Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda – UNIQUE CULTURE
Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda was built in 1964 and is located in Ward 1, Ca Mau City Center. It is one of the dominant pagodas with unique architectural characteristics representing Khmer people in Ca Mau.
Khmer people always have a strong attachment to the pagoda. They put the belief of a happy and comfortable life into it.
It can be said that Monivongsa Bopharam is a beautiful pagoda, bearing the architectural style of Theravada Buddhism pagoda. The main worshiped subject is Sakyamuni Buddha statue in various shapes such as Dang Sinh Buddha, Ascatic Buddha, Buddha teaching catechism to five brothers Kieu Tran Nhu, Buddha into nirvana, etc. Each Buddha statue is a different aspect to give visitors a sense of living in the past time to better understand the life of the Buddha.
The entire architecture of the pagoda is a very blazing yellow with a high dome, each corner has a statue of a fairy standing and carrying the dome on her head. Embossed images appear throughout the architecture. The central chamber is 32m high. There is a synagogue for monks, house of the monks, meticulously sculpted towers and the statues around placed in each position corresponding to the landscape of pagoda. When entering the pagoda, the most impressive thing is the huge ‘Buddha statues’ on the ground expressing the majesty of the pagoda. The pagoda campus is poetic, quiet and beautiful landscape with a lot of green trees, lotus pond, altar, etc.
In the main chamber, a very special point in the pagoda is that all walls are covered with murals. The main content of these murals is recounting the life of Shakyamuni Buddha from birth until he attains pious practice or stories to deter human from committing evils and doing wrong and immoral things. Visitors to the pagoda on the normal occasions, in addition to strolling around, seeing beautiful scenery, burning incense and praying for peace, can also make friends and feed pigeon. There are hundreds of birds that are very easy and often play with visitors, creating a close and warm atmosphere. It will be interesting to walk around, visit and admire Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda on a beautiful day.
As we all know, Khmer people have always attached their lives to the pagoda and put the beliefs of a happy and prosperous life into it. So for them, the pagoda is very important. It reflects the physical and spiritual life of the Khmer in the period when they lived. Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda is similar. Every year, on special Khmer festivals such as Chol Chnam Thmay, Dol Ta, Ok Om Bok, etc, they gather to worship and entertain together during festivals. These remarkable and impressive festival activities have become a central point and attracted other peoples in Ca Mau province to attend.
Khmer festivals at the pagoda often last throughout the night and for several days. During the holidays, especially at night, it is crowded with pagoda worshipers and guests. The peddled wares are established around the pagoda. Entertainment activities such as shuttle cock kicking, shot-put with money bonus, net-jumping, towel-hiding, blind man’s buff, chucking coin, tug of war, windlamp-droping, etc and benediction and praying ceremony lasts up to 2:00 or 3:00 a.m and then is continued the next day. Festivals are also often associated with traditional forms of art. Traditional Khmer art such as Du Ke traditional stage, traditional dances including Sarikakeo, Saravan, Rom Vong are performed by the professional amateur artists. These performances show cultural identity and identify the temple as the center of community activities. Normally, tourists to the pagoda on the festivals can eat the food brought to the pagoda by local people and join the games and Khmer dances in the jubilant air until dawn.
Khmer people are attached to the pagoda since they were born and grew up until their death. When they were young, they used to go to the pagoda for entertainment. For males, when they are12-years-old, they often come to the pagoda to cultivate talents, virtue and wisdom to be become useful people for the village. At the age of marriage, all boys and girls meet each other and give each other gifts on the festivals held at the pagoda. When they are old and die, they are cremated and their ashes are sent to the pagoda. Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda is a beautiful spiritual piece that clearly expresses the spirit and pride of the Khmer in Ca Mau province’s minority community.
If you have the chance to come to Ca Mau, choose Monivongsa Bopharam Pagoda as a destination to harmonize with the sacred and lively atmosphere of the pagoda to see Khmer people’s warmth and love for the their pagoda.
Article and Photo: Duong Kim Chuyen (Source: http://baocamau.com.vn)
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